Development of Management Theories

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Understanding management theories is vital to managers who are concerned with practical issues such as efficiency and productivity. They provide managers with a theoretical perspective on the nature and responsibilities of management within a changing environment. Current management theories and practices do not just suddenly appear. They are the outcome of an evolutionary process. It could be said their origins can be traced as far back as biblical times through to the Greek and Roman civilizations and to the management practices used by Frederick the Great of Prussia in the 15th century. This was known as the pre-industrial period of management thought.But it would be more accurate to say that contemporary management theories have their foundations in the late 18th, 19th and mid-20th centuries. Known as the modernist period, it is the time of the industrial revolution, a period of significant economic, social, and technological change. These changes challenged the existing pre-industrial order of how business was conducted. (Cole, 102-109) Previously, businesses were small craft or cottage industries producing products by skilled and semi-skilled artisans who had inherited their skills from previous generations. Consequently, labor productivity was generally low and the quality of goods produced varied significantly.The industrial revolution challenged and changed this way of producing goods forever. The emergence and use of mass production techniques and a revolution in transport changed how goods could be produced, sourced, and marketed within a country. These changes were also complemented by the growth of large-scale businesses like the Dutch East India Trading Company. These changes in turn provided business owners with the problem of how to manage such changes knowing that technology could increase the productive efficiency of their business. In other words, there needed to be a change in the organizational structure, processes, and practices to take advantage of such technological and economic changes.